By Brianna-Paige Alegbeleye
2 hours by plane. 12 hours by car. 227 hours by foot. All roughly measuring the time it would take me to travel the 768 miles between DePaul University and my home, Bowie, Maryland. Perhaps it’s a bit excessive to know the exact distance between your school and your house, but when you find yourself in a new environment, it may be a comforting thing to do, at least that’s how it has been for me.
After spending the night driving to DePaul from Maryland, my parents and oldest sister moved me into my Seton Hall dorm and then flew back home all in one day. When they left, I was abruptly smacked in the face with the realization that, whether I liked it or not, I was alone. In that moment, I felt every single one of those 768 miles separating me from the life I had known for the past 18 years. My family, my friends, my comfort. All gone. And I was terrified. I’d like to say that after this brief moment of panic, I put on a brave face and went into my residence hall’s common room to socialize, but I think we all know that is far from what actually happened. I spent the remainder of that day in my dorm room, trying to get used to this new reality of mine.
The day after my lackluster move-in experience was a Sunday, and I figured that even though everything else around me was changing, my faith practices could stay the same for the sake of my sanity. I wanted to go to mass…only, I didn’t know when mass was. Luckily, one of my hall RAs posted that he would be walking a group to Sunday night mass at a time that I deemed far too close to the start of mass for my liking. I walked to mass that night by myself, arrived fairly early, and ended up being approached by a woman, named Jackie, who was a staff person at Catholic Campus Ministry. While I usually get anxious around strangers, Jackie didn’t cause me any anxiety, but rather a comfort. We talked about the two of us being from Maryland, how I was adjusting to college, and some of the upcoming programs CCM was offering, including the New Student Retreat, which she encouraged me to sign up for. And as our conversation came to a close and mass began, I felt a little less scared about college.
I’ve learned to look back on my first weekend at DePaul with fondness, especially now that I’m at the beginning of my senior year here. Following Jackie’s suggestion, I ended up going on the New Student Retreat, and in a way, I haven’t left CCM since. I’ve gone on almost all the retreats offered, participated in small groups, regularly attend Sunday night mass, and so much more. I’ve been brought into a community that I most likely wouldn’t have found if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone on multiple occasions. And right now, to close this brief reflection, I invite you to step out of your own comfort zone and see what CCM has to offer you. Whether it be signing up for an upcoming retreat, attending a small group, or simply just walking into mass, step out of your comfort zone. Whether this is your first year at DePaul or your senior year, there’s an opportunity for you, and it just might be waiting for you past the threshold of CCM.